Oct. 23--Police, firefighters and other emergency services for the new Macon-Bibb County government will get a complete software package from New World Systems, under a recommendation made Wednesday by the task force working on the government merger.
The choice passed the full task force meeting with Bibb County Commissioner Lonzy Edwards casting the only dissenting vote.
The software is to be paid for from the "public safety" category of the special purpose local option sales tax that voters passed in 2011. In a Monday committee meeting, Edwards wondered if software was an allowable use for that money.
"This funding source ? has been confirmed by the county attorney, Mr. (Virgil) Adams, and the city attorney, Judd Drake," Jeffery Monroe, chairman of the task force Technology Committee, said Wednesday. But Edwards still doubted that the definition of public safety equipment covered something as intangible as software.
"The equipment doesn't work without the software," said Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, who also is mayor-elect of the new government.
The software package is to cost about $1.9 million up front, with another $1.1 million in cost spread over the next few years, largely for system maintenance. It can give police and firefighters a large amount of detailed data on each call that's not currently available, while automatically entering much information into various record systems for the courts and jail.
New World also supplied the new government's general administration software package, which already has been installed.
The task force unanimously approved an organizational chart for the new government, with one last-minute change: deleting the new job of "emergency services director," so the heads of the Emergency Management Agency and 911 center will both report directly to the countywide manager. Macon Councilman Tom Ellington suggested that change, and it was adopted against one opposing vote, that of task force Human Resources Committee Chairwoman Miriam Paris.
The organizational chart calls for one county manager and two assistant county managers, with one assistant overseeing "operations" functions such as finance and human resources while the other will oversee "infrastructure" departments such as engineering, vehicles and streets, said Laura Mathis, deputy director of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission. The chart was developed by the regional commission in consultation with city and county staff, and an attempt was made to balance department sizes and group similar functions together, she said.
"We have accounted for all of the current employees for the city and county," Mathis said. Some departments which aren't duplicated in the current governments will move under the new government without change, while others were reorganized, she said.
For example, Human Resources, Information Technology and Purchasing departments are to be merged into one, according to the chart. Parks and Recreation are to be recombined, along with the city's Grounds Division and Bowden Golf Course, and the county's Lake Tobesofkee.
A new Business Development Department will combine the current Inspections & Fees, Business License and Property Inspection divisions, coming close to creating the "one-stop shop" for potential new businesses which officials have long discussed, Mathis said.
The package of laws recommended for the new government, however, will take a little longer. The task force only accepted one of four proposed ordinance chapters Thursday: one dealing with coin-operated amusement machines.
Three others were offered, on business licensing, taxation and utility franchises; but all of those were sent back to the Laws Committee for minor changes.
A combined set of ordinances, reconciling disagreements in current city and county laws, is to be presented to the new government for adoption or revision when it takes over in January.
To prepare newly elected officials of the Macon-Bibb government for their jobs, the task force is planning to set up meetings before Christmas. The new nine-member commission will be asked to meet with the task force to discuss what's been done, perhaps with detailed presentations from consultants on issues such as employee pensions, Mathis said.
Ten or 11 two-hour meetings are contemplated, but some task force members suggested an intensive two-day retreat might work better, schedules permitting.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.
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